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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Spatial Forecasting of the Landscape in Rapidly Urbanizing Hill Stations of South Asia: A Case Study of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka (1996–2037)

1
Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1, Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan
2
Department of Environmental Management, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Mihintale 50300, Sri Lanka
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Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8572, Japan
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United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Kagoshima University, 1-21-24 Korimoto, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima 890-0065, Japan
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Department of Agricultural Engineering and Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura 50000, Sri Lanka
6
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Resources, Copperbelt University, P.O. Box 21692, Kitwe 10101, Zambia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(15), 1743; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11151743
Received: 17 June 2019 / Revised: 15 July 2019 / Accepted: 15 July 2019 / Published: 24 July 2019
Forecasting landscape changes is vital for developing and implementing sustainable urban planning. Presently, apart from lowland coastal cities, mountain cities (i.e., hill stations) are also facing the negative impacts of rapid urbanization due to their economic and social importance. However, few studies are addressing urban landscape changes in hill stations in Asia. This study aims to examine and forecast landscape changes in the rapidly urbanizing hill station of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. Landsat data and geospatial techniques including support vector machines, urban–rural gradient, and statistical analysis were used to map and examine the land use/land cover (LULC) change in Nuwara Eliya during the 1996–2006 and 2006–2017 periods. The multilayer perceptron neural network-Markov model was applied to simulate future LULC changes for 2027 and 2037. The results show that Nuwara Eliya has been directly affected by rapid urban development. During the past 21 years (1996–2017), built-up areas increased by 1791 ha while agricultural land declined by 1919 ha due to augmented urban development pressure. The pressure of urban development on forest land has been relatively low, mainly due to strict conservation government policies. The results further show that the observed landscape changes will continue in a similar pattern in the future, confirming a significant increase and decrease of built-up and agricultural land, respectively, from 2017 to 2037. The changes in agricultural land exhibit a strong negative relationship with the changes in built-up land along the urban–rural gradient (R2 were 0.86 in 1996–2006, and 0.93 in 2006–2017, respectively). The observed LULC changes could negatively affect the production of unique upcountry agricultural products such as exotic vegetables, fruits, cut flowers, and world-famous Ceylon tea. Further, unplanned development could cause several environmental issues. The study is important for understanding future LULC changes and suggesting necessary remedial measures to minimize possible undesirable environmental and socioeconomic impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban–rural gradient analysis; land use and land cover; agricultural land; tropical Asia; policy; forest urban–rural gradient analysis; land use and land cover; agricultural land; tropical Asia; policy; forest
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ranagalage, M.; Wang, R.; Gunarathna, M.H.J.P.; Dissanayake, D.; Murayama, Y.; Simwanda, M. Spatial Forecasting of the Landscape in Rapidly Urbanizing Hill Stations of South Asia: A Case Study of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka (1996–2037). Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 1743.

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